Partner Profile: Health Parks
Updated: Oct 13
“Linking Parks, Public Health and Social Prescribing: The Parks for Health Initiative”
"IF WE VALUE IT, WE WILL INVEST IN IT - IF WE FAIL TO INVEST IN IT, WE WILL LOSE IT." - Richard Tisdall, Director - Tisdall Associates
Parks and Open Spaces have in the past been seen as a cost rather than being valued for their contribution to the health and wellbeing of society. This can now change. The Parks for Health Toolkit is the key to optimising Parks for Health. It has been developed by Tisdall Associates, (a registered Practice of the Landscape Institute), in conjunction with Parks for London and Friends Groups (NFPGS) in consultation with a number of Local Authorities.
“Scientific research demonstrates that parks play a central role in the prevention and treatment of avoidable ill-health. What has been needed to date is an objective, evidence-based toolkit to assess parks and green spaces against that evidence and to provide clear guidance on community initiatives, improvements and new interventions that can increase the health status of a park....The Health Parks Assessment Toolkit is the missing key to understand and unlock the health benefits of local parks and green spaces.” - Tony Leach, CEO Parks for London
The Parks for Health Initiative is in use by Councils in the UK, who are developing Park Health Strategies for single and multiple parks across their Boroughs. The Parks for Health Initiative forms the basis for the successful National Trust/ HLF Future Parks Accelerator bid by the London Boroughs of Islington and Camden. The initiative provides a context to draw together Parks, Public Health and CCGs to deliver health promoting parks and open spaces.
“We see this funding as an exciting opportunity to help crystallise and implement the thinking that has been developing for some time and to accelerate that thinking into a tangible project that will genuinely transform the service and look to unlock for Parks services the holy grail of Health funding. It will provide vital resources to develop the capacity of staff and civil society partners to develop new ways of working, enable the development of new relationships between Parks, Leisure, Public Health and the CCG and leave behind a lasting framework and mechanism to deliver new funding and resources to support the future development and management of our parks.”— Andrew Bedford. Head of Public Realm (Greenspace & Leisure) Islington Borough Council.
Delivering Parks and Green Spaces for Health requires an objective assessment model. This must be independent, quantifiable, replicable, and user friendly. Based upon academic study, a detailed review of primary research, and drawing on experience and qualifications in Landscape Design and Public Health, the Parks for Health Toolkit places Parks and Green Spaces within the context of Public Health and Primary Prevention opening the way for the use of parks and green spaces for Health Promotion and Social Prescribing.
“Members (of our Friends of Ruskin Park) feel passionately about the blindingly obvious causative link between our health and the environment...It’s quite a struggle to make consistent improvements. We want a more systematic and effective approach to deciding on priorities for the park and ensuring that they’re implemented.”— Lucy Hadfield. Chair of Ruskin Park’s Friends Group. London Borough of Lambeth.
The Parks for Health Toolkit itemises elements in parks within five Primary Health Criteria: Community Initiatives, Accessibility, Physical Activity, Mental Wellbeing and Environment and Biodiversity. It forms the basis for Parks Health Audits and allows the development Open Space Health Strategies.
“A lot of it’s common sense and a lot of it we know, but what the strategy report does is bring some specific expertise and objective analysis and statistics around a whole range of health data, which just helps guide us in terms of priorities and also provides a document that we can show to funders. — Kevin Crook Assistant Director Environment London Borough of Lambeth
The Parks for Health Initiative is relevant to all those responsible for and committed to the creation of healthy communities. - LET’S MAKE IT HAPPEN
t: (01386) 553350